MALMO, Sweden _ Connor McDavid and Curtis Lazar scored in the third period and Canada hung on for a 3-2 victory over the United States to claim first place in their preliminary round group on Tuesday at the world junior championship.
© The Canadian Press/Frank Gunn
Canada goaltender Zachary Fucale keeps an eye on the action during team practice at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in Malmo, Sweden on Sunday December 29, 2013.
Nic Petan also scored for Canada (3-0-1), which needed a win in regulation time in the final group stage game for both teams to pass the Americans (3-1-0) for top spot in the five-team group and a preferential spot in Thursday's quarter-finals. Canada will face Switzerland, who finished fourth in the other group.
Riley Barber and Stefan Matteau scored for the U.S., which dominated the first half until momentum turned with Petan's goal at 12:49 of the second.
The U.S. squad that went into the game with a 58 per cent success rate on the power play (11-for-19) was held without a goal on three chances. It was the Americans who ran into penalty trouble in the third period.
At last year's world juniors, Canada beat the U.S. 2-1 in first round play, only to lose to them 5-1 in the semifinals.
Coach Brent Sutter opted to go with Zach Fucale in goal for a second game in a row and it paid off in a scoreless first period as he stopped Jack Eichel in alone and then robbed Barber with a glove save from close range during an American power play.
For a fourth straight game, Canada surrendered the opening goal, this time just as a 4-on-4 situation ended and Taylor Leier was just leaving the penalty box.
Barber had the puck behind the Canadian net and caught Fucale moving the wrong way as he came around and slipped it inside the post 3:29 into the second frame.
Some hard work by Anthony Mantha produced the tying goal at 12:49, as he used his long reach to push the puck to the left side where Petan trailed in late to beat Jon Gilles to an open side.
Petan had scored the game-winner and an empty-net goal in Canada's 5-3 win over Slovakia on Monday.
Canada killed a penalty to start the third and then got one just as their own power play ended 3:54 into the third when Josh Morrissey got the puck to the net and McDavid had two chances to slide it past Gilles.
Lazar was camped in front for the re-direct on a power play at 6:13 as the puck went from Derrick Puliot to Jonathan Drouin to the Edmonton forward for his second goal in as many games.
The Americans battled back, and Fucale was sharp in stopping Connor Carrick on a shorthanded breakaway, sparking the mostly Canadian crowd of 3,882 to chant the goaltender's name.
But he failed to handle Matteau's shot and it dropped in with Andrew Copp parked on the doorstep at 17:45.
The game marked the return of Griffin Reinhart from a four-game suspension incurred against the Americans in the semifinals of last year's world juniors in Ufa, Russia. The big rearguard played a solid game paired mostly with Matt Dumba.
He finally got to play at a world juniors with his younger brother, forward Sam Reinhart. The two were on the ice together a lot, especially while penalty killing.
By Bill Beacon
THE CANADIAN PRESS